Christmas wouldn't quite be the same without the aesthetic that comes along with it. Sparkling lights, Christmas trees and red, green and gold baubles.
Part of the festive fun is decorating your home in a way that perfectly embodies who you are, but finding the right real Christmas tree - and picking the best shape for your home - takes a lot of consideration.
The traditional cut Christmas tree in Britain has been the Norway spruce for decades, but in recent years, sales of 'non-drop' varieties, such as the Nordman fir, Fraser fir and blue spruce have started to overtake the Norway spruce.
'Non-drop' Christmas trees are best if you'll regularly be around kids, but each tree has it own individual qualities that make it a favourable option.
Regardless of which one you choose, provided the tree is well looked after, your Christmas tree should survive for more than four weeks, according to the British Christmas Tree Growers Association.
Here's our guide to the best Christmas trees available, what makes them desirable and how to make them last.
1. Norway spruce
The Norway spruce has been the traditional British Christmas tree since the Victorian era thanks to Queen Victoria's husband Prince Albert, who introduced the German custom of decorating a spruce tree to England in the early 18th century.
The bright green, bushy Norway Spruce has a rich pine scent, but also leaves behind spiky needle-like leaves meaning it's not very child friendly and requires maintenance. If you're keen on this variety, wait until later in December, make sure you water it regularly and try to keep it away from radiators. A good-value outdoor option.
2. Nordmann Fir
The Nordmann fir is one of the most popular Christmas trees in the UK. The trees have a reliably symmetrical shape with a wide base and dark green, broad needles.
They are classed as a 'non-drop' Christmas tree alongside some others for retaining their needles for considerably longer than traditional Christmas trees do. Additionally, the foliage is soft and glossy meaning it is fairly child-friendly.
The Nordmann fir is pretty low-maintenance indoor option and if you like larger decorations its branching patterns will ensure your Christmas memorabilia is well shown off.
3. Blue spruce
Despite being at its bluest in spring, the needles of this tree have a lovely silver-blue tinge during the Christmas period. Much like the Norway spruce, it has sharp needles, though it does hold its needles well.
The Fraser fir is the more popular choice in the US, and also has a lovely, aromatic fragrance. It has a more narrow base – making it ideal for tight spaces.
It is similar to the Norway spruce by having firm branches, great for holding your heavy baubles, and also to the Nordmann fir, by holding its needles well.
The Obama family seemed to love it too, if this 2012 picture of them taking a delivery of one is anything to go by.
5. Serbian spruce
Similar to the Norway spruce, but with slightly better needle retention. These trees have an attractive blue underside to the needles and have a lovely slender shape making them suited to smaller homes or corridors.
They're increasingly popular in central Europe and look great with simpler decorations or just a string of pretty lights.
Best to buy this tree in mid-late December to reduce the amount of needle drop.
The Douglas fir has soft, dark green or blue-green needles. The tree is popular for its good needle retention and a lovely citrus fragrance.
It's a statement tree and they can grow extremely large. You may want to test out how well it holds your ornaments before you buy it by taking (a not easily breakable) one with you.
7. Lodgepole pine
The Lodgepole is a bushy tree with yellowy-green needles making it a very attractive choice for a Christmas tree. And, it has that festive pine scent that is much loved.
This tree's straight stems were supposedly once used by Native Americans as the central pole for their wigwams. It's a bushy tree with yellowy-green needles and is very good for needle retention.
8. Noble fir
This fir has attractive grey-green needles that tilt upwards and very strong branches, so is a good choice for hanging heavy decorations on.
They are native of the forests of Washington and Oregon and were introduced into Britain in 1830.
They're hard to find in the UK and more expensive, although their needle retention is among the best.
Buy yours from Barcham Tree Specialists
9. Scots pine
Sightly less common, the Scots pine (Scotland's national tree) is a native tree with bright, blue-green foliage and a lovely fragrance.
The needles are quite sharp, but they have excellent retention – even when dry.
The branches are known for being strong if you're planning on lots of decorations.
How to make your real Christmas tree last
- Keep it outside or in a cool place for as long as possible before moving it inside.
- When you're ready to decorate it, chop a couple of centimetres off the stump and put it in water straightaway.
- Water it every day - they drink lots - and try to position it away from radiators and open fires. Christmas trees don't like heat.
Always turn your Christmas tree lights off before watering and going to bed.
Where else can I buy real Christmas trees?
These suppliers are a good place to start:
- Wyevale Garden Centres, nationwide (wyevalegarden centres.co.uk)
- John Lewis, nationwide and online (johnlewis.com)
- B&Q, nationwide and online (diy.com)
- Doddington Hall, Lincs (doddingtonhall.com)
- Pines and Needles, across London (pinesandneedles.com)
- Dobbies Garden Centres, nationwide (dobbies.com)
- See bctga.co.uk for your nearest supplier
Not sure if a cut Christmas tree is for you? You might find our guide to the best artificial Christmas trees useful.